Australia news live: China meeting ‘constructive’, Penny Wong says; up to 9.8m Optus customers affected by data breach

Optus CEO says 9.8 million customers affected by data attack under ‘worst case scenario’

Josh Taylor

Optus customers dating back to 2017 may be caught up in the massive hack of the telco’s customer database, the company’s CEO has revealed.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told reporters on a media call on Friday that the company is still not sure exactly how many customers had their personal information – including name, phone number, date of birth and in some cases passport or driver’s licence numbers – compromised in the attack, but that 9.8 million was the “worst case scenario”.

She said:

We have reason to believe that the number is actually smaller than that. But we are working through reconstructing exactly what the attackers have received.

The data goes back to 2017 because under law Optus is required to keep identity verification records for six years. Until Optus determines who is affected, then Optus will be able to directly contact those customers. Bayer Rosmarin said even those customers not directly affected will hear from Optus.

There have been no ransom demands, and Optus has not yet determined whether it was a criminal organisation or state actor attack on the company. She wouldn’t go into detail about how the attack occurred, saying it was “the subject of criminal proceedings”.

The IP address of the attacker “came out of various countries in Europe”, she said.

Bayer Rosmarin said the whole country needed to respond to the attack together:

We don’t yet know who these attackers are and what they want to do with this information, which is why we really need a Team Australia response.

Key events

Tory Shepherd

Foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has again condemned Russian president Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats, and has called on China to use its influence to end the war in Ukraine.

In New York for the UN general assembly, Wong said this morning she had a “constructive” meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

She urged restraint and de-escalation on Taiwan, spoke about the detention of Australians Cheng Lei and Yang Hengjun in China, and discussed the ongoing trade restrictions China has imposed on Australian goods. She said “continued engagement and goodwill on both sides” was needed to stabilise the fraught relationship. Wong said:

It’s a long road in which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship.

She also called on China as a “great power” and signatory to the UN charter to use its influence on Russia:

We believe, as does every country, with the exception of Russia, that Russia is in breach of the UN charter through its illegal invasion of Ukraine. And we encourage China… to uphold the UN charter, to use its influence to end the war.

She also repeated her comments that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s threats to resort to nuclear weapons were “both unthinkable and irresponsible”. She said:

We cannot allow Mr Putin’s irresponsible threats to be successful in shaping an outcome, which goes to Ukrainian sovereignty being abrogated.

Wong has also met with leaders from Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations, and discussed the Aukus partnership with the UK’s new foreign minister, James Cleverly.

Wong: meeting with China’s foreign minister ‘constructive’

Q: What is the main takeaway from the meeting with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi? How would Australia’s foreign minister describe the relationship between the two countries?

Penny Wong:

I think it was another constructive meeting. I think it is a long road on which many steps will have to be taken by both parties to a more stable relationship.

Wong: Putin’s comments ‘unthinkable and irresponsible’

On Russia, Penny Wong says:

I think in relation to Mr Putin’s comments, I said yesterday they are both unthinkable and irresponsible. That is how we should frame them. They should be the consistent position from the international community.

This is a difficult time. The time of great change. A time where we need to be behaving in a way that is responsible, calm and considered. We need to work to expand Australian power and our influence as much as we are able on the changes that are occurring. We have to fight for those things we believe are really important.

Wong: initial focus of China meeting was trade

Penny Wong is not going into detail on the meeting and is choosing her words very carefully.

She says she raised consular cases, as is normal, and reiterated Australia’s position on Taiwan – urging the de-escalation of tensions.

On the issues covered, Wong said:

China articulates their position. We articulate ours. In terms of issues of difference first amongst them is the issue of trade blockages. That is the issue I focused on in the outset. I think that is what the Australian people would anticipate. We do raise consistently the issue of human rights.

Wong: ‘We will continue to engage with China’

And on the meeting with Wang Yi?

Penny Wong:
As I said to the minister, Australian interests are constant and the government will continue to speak of those issues we see as necessary and continue to engage with China in order to stabilise the relationship. That will require engagement and goodwill on both sides.

Foreign minister speaks after international meetings in New York

Penny Wong has spoken in New York – they haven’t been showing these live, but given the meeting with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, we are getting it pretty quickly.

Tory Shepherd will have more for you, but Wong has said it was a “productive day”:

I joined a meeting of Mikta countries – Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia – and we are also pleased to have Poland attending for some of the meeting. We had a constructive conversation about how we can collaborate and partner in support of multilateralism.

I also [took] the opportunity to catch up with the minister from Solomon Islands. We value our position as a partner of choice with the Solomon Islands. It was a good opportunity to talk to him about their development priorities and how we can continue to support them. The focus of this afternoon was the Pacific family, our Pacific family.

Sydney to host world’s largest space forum in 2025

The winner is….Sydney. When it comes to space. Or at least space forums.

As AAP reports:

The world’s largest space forum will be held in Sydney in 2025, attracting thousands of visitors and bringing millions of dollars in tourism to the state. The International Astronautical Congress will bring together academics, space industry professionals and space organisations to improve the global cosmic agenda.

Sydney beat Bangkok, Beijing and Istanbul to secure the coveted 2025 hosting rights. Investment NSW’s chief executive, Kate Knight, said the win was evidence of NSW’s “rapidly growing standing” on the world space stage.

“Our state already generates up to 75% of Australia’s space-related revenue and 41% of the country’s space businesses are based in NSW,” she said in a statement.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

The successful bid was backed the Australian Space Agency, the Space Industry Association of Australia and Business Events Sydney.

Four Corners announces Monday program on Peter Dutton.

The ABC’s Four Corners have announced their Monday program – it is on Peter Dutton. And opposition leader Dutton is doing something home affairs minister Dutton would never do: be interviewed for the program.

Previously, Dutton had declared the ABC (and the Guardian) “dead” to him. Looks like there has been a resurrection.

The program has also spoken to people who have been impacted by his words as minister.

Optus CEO says 9.8 million customers affected by data attack under ‘worst case scenario’

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Optus customers dating back to 2017 may be caught up in the massive hack of the telco’s customer database, the company’s CEO has revealed.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told reporters on a media call on Friday that the company is still not sure exactly how many customers had their personal information – including name, phone number, date of birth and in some cases passport or driver’s licence numbers – compromised in the attack, but that 9.8 million was the “worst case scenario”.

She said:

We have reason to believe that the number is actually smaller than that. But we are working through reconstructing exactly what the attackers have received.

The data goes back to 2017 because under law Optus is required to keep identity verification records for six years. Until Optus determines who is affected, then Optus will be able to directly contact those customers. Bayer Rosmarin said even those customers not directly affected will hear from Optus.

There have been no ransom demands, and Optus has not yet determined whether it was a criminal organisation or state actor attack on the company. She wouldn’t go into detail about how the attack occurred, saying it was “the subject of criminal proceedings”.

The IP address of the attacker “came out of various countries in Europe”, she said.

Bayer Rosmarin said the whole country needed to respond to the attack together:

We don’t yet know who these attackers are and what they want to do with this information, which is why we really need a Team Australia response.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Julian Hill, Matt Thistlethwaite and Scott Morrison speak on condolence motion

We’ve tracked down a list of speakers who will be talking on the condolence motion for the Queen, and there’s obviously a few interesting contributions we’re looking out for. Labor MP Julian Hill, a staunch supporter of an Australian republic, was one we had our eye on.

The outspoken backbencher told the House he was “a loud and proud republican”, and began his speech by telling the House that “contrary to speculation of my colleagues, there’s no risk of a breach to standing order 88”.

We had to go look this one up. The rules of the House state that “a Member must not refer disrespectfully to the Queen, the Governor General, or a State Governor, in debate or for the purpose of influencing the House in its deliberations” – which has obvious relevance to today.

But there was no need for worry, as Hill made a surprise confession that he kept a “small secret collection of royal glassware” – including Queen Elizabeth coronation glasses, cups from her Australian tour in 1954, coffee cups for the Queen’s jubilee, and glasses for Charles and Diana’s wedding. The collection had been handed down from his grandmother.

Another one we circled in the speakers’ program was Matt Thistlethwaite, the assistant minister for the republic, whose job is to start preparing Australia for a potential republican referendum in Labor’s second term. He has, for obvious reasons, kept rather quiet in recent weeks.

But perhaps unsurprisingly, Thistlethwaite didn’t mention the republic or push the issue. Instead, he spoke warmly about how often the Queen had visited his electorate of Kingsford Smith (because, as he noted, that’s where Sydney airport is) and her love of racehorses.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison made a brief contribution as well, in what might be his first major contribution in the parliament since losing the May election.

Morrison praised the Queen for a “remarkable life” and spoke of her dedication to dignity, duty and compassion. He also talked of her religious conviction, “her deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ”.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Malarndirri McCarthy says Indigenous Australians reflecting on pain of frontier wars

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said some First Nations people had “mixed feelings” after the death of Queen Elizabeth, saying Indigenous Australians were reflecting on “the pain at the frontier wars”.

McCarthy, the assistant minister for Indigenous Australians, spoke in her condolence motion in the Senate about how her family members had shared different thoughts about what the monarchy meant to them, and “the world of colonialism”.

Now deeply, still, the pain at the frontier wars and the conflicts that came with that.

We know that these are the mixed feelings and emotions of so many across the globe in commonwealth lands for First Nations people.

McCarthy said the British system of Westminster democracy had been a “wonderful” thing, but emphasised the feelings of Indigenous people about what the Queen represented as a symbol.

There will always be a time to talk about those things that have hurt in the past, and that time will come. But for now we acknowledge the incredible memory of an incredible woman who impacted the globe and millions of people over seven decades.



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